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The Unsigned Guide Spotlight: March

Le Marina - ‘Bottles’

Growing up in a small town near Florence, Italy, Le Marina had plenty exposure to artistic ideas from an early age. Much of her family was devoted to art, which ensured that her upbringing was injected with a healthy dose of eccentricity. Her move to London in 2012 was partly motivated by a creative urge to explore big ideas in a big environment. Along with being creatively encouraged in her formative years, Le Marina's music is influenced by her love of trip hop, hip-hop and electronic sound, with Massive Attack, Kelela, FKA twigs and Kaytranada's work close to her heart.

Her debut single, 'Bottles', was only released at the start of last month but first came to life way back in 2015. It has survived for so long mainly because of the emotional connection Le Marina felt after its conception:

"I felt attached to the track as soon as I finished writing it. It became my personal hymn to my broken heart. When I play it, I still feel every word, every note like I wrote it yesterday."

In its current form, ‘Bottles’ was produced by Max Mella who has worked with Le Marina on a number of tracks and it appears that their collaboration could be a fruitful one. Le Marina doesn't understate the importance of Max's contribution to the final product, "He was really amazing cause he understood exactly which direction to take. It took us a bit of time with this track but I am so glad with how it came out!"

The song is the perfect introduction to Le Marina's sound, where powerful beats and experimental, industrial noises are contrasted against a delicate vocal. The space is filled primarily by percussive elements, generating a larger than life future-tribal quality. The unconventional nature of the instrumentation leaves the vocals to provide the bulk of the melody; ensuring that any nuance in Le Marina's delivery doesn't get lost in the mix.

You can watch the video for Bottles above. There is another single release forthcoming for Le Marina, along with live dates across the UK and Italy.

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KOYO - ‘Before’

There is plenty for KOYO to shout about off the back back their 2017 self-titled debut album. As well as popping up on 'Best of 2017' lists in both Classic Rock Magazine and Louder Than War, KOYO's debut also went a long way to landing them dream slots at Download, Reading and Leeds Festivals. To top things off, their frontman, Huw, was invited to Steve Lamacq's 6Music show to spin one of their tracks and discuss Leeds venues for Independent Venue Week in 2018. Still, the Leeds-based rockers aren't resting on their laurels, they have world domination in their sights; starting with the latest single, 'Before'.

As the first song that the band penned with their new guitarist, Seb, as a permanent member, there is a sense of excitement emanating from the bones of the song. They're relishing the opportunity that an additional guitar gives them to crank things up yet another notch, as Huw explains:

"Before came together one afternoon while noodling around on my acoustic. I sang it to the guys and everyone just latched onto it really quickly and did their thing with it. It all felt very natural, which is a good sign. After being out on the road together touring the first album [with Seb], it felt like the first fruit of our labours and just sounded like us, which is all that we wanted."

Guitar certainly isn't dead for KOYO. 'Before' is angular, gritty, riff heavy rock at its finest, where tight vocal harmonies meet even tighter guitar interplay. With so much of the track's energy pouring out of the guitars and drums, synth player Jacob does well to add a mostly subtle layer of sheen and modernity to the mix. KOYO don't need to reinvent the wheel because their finely tuned rock vehicle is already chugging along beautifully.

After a lengthy spell in the studio, KOYO have plenty of new material lined up for release this year. They're asking that we keep our eyes on their socials for some gig announcements and big surprises. In the coming months, you can get down to one of the band's shows at Lending Room (Leeds) on 11th April, Camden Rocks (London) on 2nd June and/or The Garage (London) on 6th June.

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Tina Boonstra - ‘Flicker’

Raised in a missionary family, Tina has been songwriting for many years now and cut her teeth on London’s open mic circuit. Drawing on influences from Damien Rice to Wolf Alice, she has moulded a treasure trove of songs, awash with depth and emotional intensity.

‘Flicker’ is the second single in a series of songs nicknamed 'Underrated Animals' by Tina, with all songs in the series touching upon weakness and fragility. Despite the vulnerability conjured from the lyrical content, the track itself is rolled up into a punchy and infectious pop package, tied neatly with her distinct and lavish vocals as the bow on top.

Already having music featured on Spotify's New Music Friday and Mellow Pop playlists, as well as airplay on BBC Introducing London and Hoxton Radio, Tina’s greatest delight still comes from playing the songs live and seeing people interact with them. She recently played a stellar intimate gig for Sofar Brighton, and more gig dates are on the agenda for London and Liverpool, plus hopefully a few festival appearances over the summer.

We're reassured than we can expect the release of two more ‘animals’ over the coming months; gradually expanding Tina’s output into a veritable musical menagerie.

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Adreyn Cash - ‘Gravity’
Jamaican born singer, songwriter and producer Adreyn Cash has recently unveiled his debut 8 track EP ‘Illusions’ to much praise, with radio stations BBC 1Xtra and Reprezent Radio already on side. Taken from the release, ‘Gravity’ is an alternative soul gem, harnessing a mixture of musical directions including pop, gospel, electronica and R&B. Adreyn’s crisp, pure vocals add another layer of luminosity to this polished, yet soulful track.

Offering insight into the meaning behind the song he says, “It’s about the battle of rationality in love. ‘Gravity’ acts as the rational mind, which keeps me grounded from falling blindly in love. I co-produced the song with Linden Jay of Farr Music, I knew I wanted it to be synth heavy bass line while having an element of freedom to emphasise the battle.”

Now the EP has dropped, Adreyn plans to get back on the road to perform his new material, and he’ll also be turning his attentions to creating videos to capture the spirit of his songs visually. We look forward to seeing how his latest expression manifests itself.

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Second Hand Poet - ‘I'll Be Yours’

Singer-songwriter Jamie Tipson began his journey as Second Hand Poet in 2014, pricking up ears across the industry with his delicate DIY debut EP, 'All My Life'. His self-described brand of "emotive gloom folk" has since gained him support from BBC Music Introducing: The South, BBC 6 Music and Amazing Radio, along with a hearty following on Spotify. Jamie has retained his DIY spirit as his audience has grown, sending out limited edition physical media with personalised surprises, and recently establishing his own label, Pretty Thing Records.

His first release through the label, 'I'll Be Yours', sees Second Hand Poet's sound stripped back to its bare bones. The patient, emotive pull of the song is wonderfully effective, but it wasn't always intended to be so understated:

"The original idea was a faster tempo version with a full-band arrangement. But almost instantly after finishing the writing of the lyrics, it seemed a lot more fitting to allow it its own little personal space."

This decision provides more opportunity to ruminate on the raw sensitivity of the song's lyrics, described by Jamie as a look at "The weight of anxiety, and the effects it has on your mental state, especially around others." The simplicity of delivery brings to mind the early work of fellow folkster Keaton Henson, cornering the listener with devastating honesty and tear-jerking consequences.

I'll Be Yours has been spiffingly received, which should open even more doors for Second Hand Poet's next single release. We're stocking up on the Kleenex, as we're promised more singles to come over the next few months, along with a UK tour in May.

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